Scholars are establishing a new professional organization, the Society for Social Neuroscience, helping to advance an emerging interdisciplinary field. Research in social neuroscience is based on the use of new technologies, advanced understanding of genetics and other research, including studies on animal behavior.
"We define social neuroscience broadly as the study of the neural, genetic, cellular and hormonal mechanisms underlying the emergent organizations that characterize each social species," said University of Chicago psychologist John Cacioppo.
Cacioppo, one of the scholars who coined the expression "social neuroscience" in a 1992 paper, has been elected president of the new organization. Cacioppo is the Tiffany & Margaret Blake Distinguished Service Professor in Psychology at the University. Among other topics, his research looks at loneliness and its impact on health.
Another founding board of directors member is Jean Decety, the Irving B. Harris Professor in Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Chicago. A neuroscientist specializing on empathy, Decety is editor of the journal Social Neuroscience. "Social neuroscience is expanding. New programs are being created, and there are many new people in the field using neuroimaging methods like functional MRI," Decety said. Some of the claims made about fMRI scans as well as other findings from the field have been overstated, however, he said.
Decety and Cacioppo hope to provide more direction and clarity to the field through their work as co-editors of the Handbook on Social Neuroscience, the first such volume in the field, to be published next year by Oxford University Press. The two were also among 1,300 researchers from 35 countries at the first conference of the Society for Neuroscience held in November in San Diego.
The two scholars are the authors of an article, "Challenges and Opportunities in Social Neuroscience," to be published in the Decem
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University of Chicago